Habitat use of coexisting introduced eastern cottontail and native European hare.

Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 78(4):235–240. DOI:10.1016/j.mambio.2013.02.002


The niche of introduced species and that of native ones may overlap, thus causing detrimental effects on the latter through competitive interactions. We used radio telemetry to investigate habitat partitioning during the active period by the introduced American eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and the native European hare (Lepus europaeus) in sympatric conditions. Home ranges of cottontails varied from 1.1–2.2 ha in autumn to 3.0–3.6 ha in summer. In hares, home ranges were 30.5–33.8 ha in summer and increased to 49.5–85.9 ha in winter. Both species used an overall area composed of about 27% of natural habitats (i.e., meadows, woodlands, shrubby habitats, shores, and uncultivated land) and over 70% of field crops. The coexistence of the two species appeared to be facilitated by habitat partitioning. Habitat use of cottontails was characterized by a preference for natural habitats at the study area level as well as within the home ranges, while hares showed a preference for crop fields at both spatial scales and a seasonal selection of meadows within home ranges. Habitat overlap measured with the Pianka index was 0.57–0.64 in autumn and winter, and increased in summer and spring to 0.73–0.78. Our results provide evidence of different resource selection strategies adopted by these two sympatric lagomorph species. Hare populations are often found in agricultural landscapes at low-densities, while cottontails are currently spreading throughout Northern Italy to such an extent that an eradication programme appears unfeasible. In this situation, conservation measures for hares and other species should also take into consideration the presence or possible arrival of cottontails. Habitat restoration measures that would increase the amount of fallow lands and shrublands may favour cottontails more than hares. In areas where introduced lagomorphs are present, the necessity of natural open landscapes for hares may be better faced by increasing the presence of meadows, that are seasonally used by hares and not by cottontails.


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Montag, 08 November 2021 17:07

DORI, P., SCALISI, M. & MORI, E. (2019)

“An American near Rome” … and not only! Presence of the eastern cottontail in Central Italy and potential impacts on the endemic and vulnerable Apennine hare.

Mammalia 83(3): 307-312. 


The eastern cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus has been introduced to Italy for hunting purposes since the 1960s. This species is currently present in northern Italy, with some small populations in Central Italy. Data for Central Italy are scanty, but they deserve research attention because this lagomorph is responsible for the spread of disease to an endemic vulnerable species, the Apennine hare Lepus corsicanus. In this work, we summarized the distribution of alien cottontails, over 50 years after their first releases, with special regard to areas where the endemic species is present. Eradication should be recommended where the alien species coexists with the endemic one.


Freigegeben in D
Montag, 01 November 2021 09:01

LONG, J. L. (2003)

Introduced Mammals of the World - Their History, Distribution and Influence.

591 Seiten. Verbreitungskarten. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood VIC. ISBN 0 643 06714 0.



Introduced species pose one of the most important threats to biodiversity and are one of the major engines of ecological disintegration.

This comprehensive work provides an account of the movement of 337 species of mammals around the world. It provides details on the date of introduction, the person or agency responsible, the source populations, the location of release, the fate of the introductions, and the impact, if known, of the introduction.


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